The Australian government reported that it has found no conclusive evidence linking aggression and crime to popular video games. It is a move that is likely to affect the country's ongoing discussion over the handing of mature rated games. Australia is currently in the middle of an extensive review into the way its classification boards handle R18+ censorship. As it stands, all games that fall into this category are almost certain to remain unrated in the country, meaning they cannot be sold to the public. This has been the bane of many gamers existence down-under, as they are left with heavily edited games. Now the Australian Home Affairs and Justice Minister Brendan O'Connor says information gained from the government's review will be passed onto other censorship ministers. He stated:
"The review found that evidence about the effect of violent computer games on the aggression displayed by those who play them is inconclusive... from time to time people claim that there is a strong link between violent crime or aggressive behaviour and the popularity of violent computer games. The literature does not bear out that assertion."
According to O'Connor, Australia's censorship ministers requested the review in order to make an informed decision into the debate. This development is crucial because the next meeting of Australia's censorship ministers occurs at the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) on December 10. He stated about the review:
"Australia needs a consistent classification system that protects young minds from any possible adverse affect, while also ensuring that adults are free to make their own decisions about what they play, within the bounds of the law,"
O'Connor isn't alone in thinking this. Public consultation on the issue in December 2009 produced a staggering 98% support for a pro-R18+ amendment to the ratings system. As well as this, last week Labor ACT Senator Kate Lundy provided the Australian Senate a speech on the benefits adult classification would bring, while Shadow Attorney-General George Bantis declared his sympathy for the R18+ cause. If there was any doubt that Australians feel there is a need for change, then this overwhelming support showcases it. As Game Rant reported earlier this year, the resignation of Michael Atkinson has almost single-handedly paved the way for these developments to occur.
For many within the gaming industry, there has been immense frustration over the way Australia handles mature and R-rated games. Games such as Valve's Left 4 Dead 2 have been heavily edited in order to achieve release within the country, heavily impacting on the experience these games yeild. This has created a demand within the country for a new rating that will allow Australian gamers to enjoy the same freedom of choice that gamers in much of the rest of the world (Germany excluded) take for granted.
Do you Ranters agree with this new outlook by Australian raters? Would you agree there isn't a link between popular video-games and aggression?